Two cannot live as cheaply as one, according to a report released in May by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they tend to spend less on food and housing than single people do.
What married couples save on food they spend on cars, health care, insurance and pensions. In the end, total per-person spending of couples and singles ages 21 to 29 is similar, equaling $26,753 and $26,567, respectively, in 2008 to 2009, according to the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey.
Singles spend more on food, alcohol and education, while married couples spend more on transportation, health care, personal insurance and pensions. Singles, who tend to be younger, are more likely to spend more on education and alcohol.
The unmarried also spend more at restaurants, and on fast-food and carry-out meals. This might reflect lifestyle differences, the report said, in that “singles may go out to dinner more frequently or to more expensive restaurants, or may purchase costlier food items at the grocery store.”
The savings gap widens as the young adults approach 30 and undergo major lifestyles changes. Married couples ages 27 through 29 spend $7,200 less per person than their single counterparts, $27,816 and $35,026, respectively. Higher rates of home ownership among married couples accounts for much of the savings. Older married couples spend $3,800 less per year on housing than singles, $10,091 and $13,887, respectively
Married couples spend more on transportation, including more to purchase and maintain vehicles. “Much of the difference can be explained by automobile ownership rates of the two groups,” said the BLS. More than 75 percent of married couples own a car, compared with 54 percent of single people. Married people make on average 30 percent more than single people do and, as a result pay more to Social Security – an average of $700 more per person.
“Young married couples ages 21 to 29 do not live as cheaply as young single people but, on a per-person basis, they do experience cost savings,” the BLS said.
Surveys conducted by Spectrem Group, a market research firm specializing in wealthy investors, have found high marriage rates among millionaires. About 83 percent of investors with a net worth of $5 million to $25 million, not including primary residence, are married and 7 percent are widowed.
Millionaires with a net worth of $25 million or more say that marriage has helped them grow richer. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said “yes” when asked if marriage to their current spouse has helped them increase their wealth.